WARNING: Some Spoilers
Bong Joon-Ho’s new film Parasite is a tale of capitalist exploitation, arguing that the wealthiest people have the blood of the poor on their hands. This is most evident not by the blood that gets shed, but by the rain that falls from the sky.
After the Kim family successfully invade the Park household, they continue to witness the daily life of the rich as they struggle to make it through. While this disparity, wealth and otherwise, is shown in a myriad of situations throughout the film, one rainstorm sheds light not only on wealth inequality but the ongoing climate crisis that will exacerbate these issues.
When the Park family leaves for a family camping trip, the Kim family stay in their house for an evening that becomes as crazy and twisted as the second half of the film. After a series of events, the Kims head home for the evening, back to their semi-basement apartment. These semi-basements, specific to Seoul, are from the days of the Cold War when nuclear bunkers were constructed in most buildings and residences. Renting semi-basements was previously illegal as they are prone to floods and families within them often suffered illness from mold and infestations. Obviously, putting the poor family literally underground while the wealthy family lives above ground has its own symbolic meaning, yet the rain on this one evening makes that distinction much more drastic. As the Kim family gets close to their basement, they start to see neighbors rushing out of their homes as rain floods the street. Upon arriving, they find their own home completely underwater and attempt to save some of the few possessions they can, including the mother’s Olympic medal. Fleeing the house, they end up sleeping on a gymnasium floor with lots of their neighbors. At this same moment, the Park family is comfortable in their home, surveying their son over walkie talkie as he camps outside in the yard. For the wealthy, rain is simply indicative of green grass tomorrow, while for the poor it signals displacement.
In sync with many nations, the rainfall in South Korea is becoming increasingly intense each year, therefore the scenario presented in Parasite is not only horrific within the film but outside it as well, getting worse alongside the warming climate. As the film focuses primarily on the Kim family, the rainstorm is a poignant reminder that the Kims are just one family amongst many. Their struggle is not unique as they lay beside other families. Their struggle is not unique as they fight against others for dry clothes. For every Park family there is a Kim family. Unfortunately, as Parasite makes painfully clear, too often the Kims battle each other for scraps of the Parks instead of taking them down together.